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Estimated retail sales for January fell 11%, to $306.2 billion from $343.9 billion last year, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. Retail sales for January increased 1.1% from $302.9 billion in December 2008, according to the Census Bureau's Advance Monthly Retail and Food Services Survey, which provides an early estimate of monthly sales for U.S. retail and food-service firms. Each month, the bureau mails questionnaires to approximately 5,000 companies. Consumers felt somewhat less pessimistic about the economy in January, according to a Discover Financial Services report (CardLine, 2/4). The Riverwoods, Ill.-based company's monthly U.S. Spending Monitor inched up 1.2 points in January to 77.8, the first increase in five months. It follows a record low of 76.6 set in December. Discover set the index at 100 when it introduced it in May 2007.

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